Every year, Congress works on appropriations legislation to fund each federal department. Black Maternal Health Caucus members have been committed to ensuring that maternal health priorities are included in these bills. For fiscal year 2021, the BMHC celebrated passage of many critically important policy priorities.
On July 31, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills that fund federal departments including Defense, Commerce, Justice, Energy, Treasury Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. The legislation included key investments for critical programs and research aimed at improving maternal health outcomes and reducing disparities. Highlights include:
- Provides $980 million in funding to support Maternal and Child Health Programs, a $37 million increase from last year’s enacted level.
- Provides $68 million in funding for Safe Motherhood and Infant Health programs, a $10 million increase from last year’s enacted level, to address disparities in maternal health outcomes, including $22 million for Maternal Mortality Review Committees and other state-level data collection initiatives.
- Provides $1.57 billion for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), with a focus on research into the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality, and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes.
- Provides $343 million for the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), an Institute that has worked closely with NICHD to promote maternal health equity.
- Provides funding for Alliance for Maternal Health Safety Bundles to implement targeted and evidence-based best practices in maternity care to improve patient outcomes.
- Provides funding for the establishment and maintenance of a maternal mental health hotline to be staffed 24 hours a day by qualified counselors.
- Provides $23 million for State Maternal Health Innovation Grants, to establish demonstrations to implement evidence-based interventions to address critical gaps in maternity care service delivery and reduce maternal mortality.
- Provides $130 million for the Healthy Start program, a $5 million increase from last year’s enacted level, to provide grants to communities with high rates of infant mortality to support primary and preventive health care services for mothers and their infants.
- Provides Nearly $32 million for pregnant and postpartum women from the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant for Programs of Regional and National Significance.
- Provides support for the NIH IMPROVE (Implementing a Maternal Health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone) Initiative, which will use an integrated approach to understand biological, behavioral, sociocultural, and structural factors that affect severe maternal mortality and maternal mortality (SMM/MM) by building an evidence base for improved care and outcomes in specific regions of the country.
- Requires the Bureau of Justice to track and publish critical data on maternal health outcomes for incarcerated pregnant women, a provision of the Justice for Incarcerated Moms title of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020 (H.R. 6142).
- Requires the Federal Transit Administration to complete and publish a report on the public transit accessibility for pregnant women, a provision of the Social Determinants for Moms title of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.